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Challenge Seeks Class of 2020 Covid-Inspired Companies

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10 June 2020. A new challenge competition aims to recognize start-up companies founded by university students getting their undergraduate degrees this year. The deadline for applications from participating entrepreneurial teams in the Posicovidity Innovation Challenge, which must include at least one person graduating in 2020, is 15 August.

The Posicovidity Innovation Challenge, which opened in May, seeks to showcase companies starting up in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. Organizers of the competition are looking for innovative solutions to systemic problems, some of which were festering even before the coronavirus struck. The challenge is seeking submissions from new companies working in four key areas:

Public health. Examples: Community-oriented solutions aimed at informing the general public, reducing the exposure to or preventing the spread of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases, and protecting at-risk communities.

Access to, or quality of, education. Examples:  Digitally delivered education, custom learning experience platforms, augmented or virtual reality learning experiences, 3-D printing enabled education experiences, learning analytics, teaching delivery platforms, and holistic content development services.

Financial empowerment. Examples: Affordable financing instruments for under-banked individuals, insurance innovations, personal financial counseling, and solutions to ease financial burdens such as hospital bills or student loans.

Support for main street small businesses. Examples: Service providers such as restaurants or nail salons, B2B software for small businesses, and services for small businesses.

Entrepreneurs are required to form teams of two to five members, with at least one team member receiving an undergraduate degree in 2020. Participating teams are asked to complete an application form and provide a business plan and video pitch. Start-up teams can represent not-for-profit organizations as well as private companies. The deadline for submissions is 15 August.

The first round of submissions will be reviewed by working professionals at the associate or analyst level, while five finalists will be asked to deliver live pitches, judged by senior-level executives. Winners will receive grants of at least $16,000; challenge organizers are raising more money to increase the prize purse. Participants will also have access to mentors, and finalists will be able to connect with judges following the competition.

The Posicovidity Innovation Challenge’s five founders are professionals who graduated in the past several years and entered the workforce before the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the founders, Gloria Li, was born in Wuhan, China and still has extended family in the city, thus the initiative has a personal connection. “Seeing the virus spread from my hometown to the east coast of the United States, where I currently reside,” says Li on the group’s web site, “has been horrifying, so I’ve been especially eager to figure out a way to become part of the solution.”

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